As the crisis along the southwest border deepens, Democrats have come up with a new spin: it’s all Donald Trump’s fault.
Over the weekend, Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar, whose district includes El Paso, Texas, told CNN the rapid surge in illegal immigration since President Joe Biden took office “is not something that happened as a result of Joe Biden becoming president,” and that the increases date back almost a year, “during the Trump administration.”
In an interview with ABC News, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said something similar: the Biden administration inherited “a broken system at the border, and they are working to correct that in the children’s interest.” On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also blamed Trump, falsely claiming they are working with a “dismantled and unprepared system” because of the “role of the last administration,” as if the Trump administration should have been building massive facilities in South Texas to house tens of thousands of migrant children, just in case they happened to show up.
This is abject nonsense. Setting aside the fact that every administration for the past 40 years has inherited a broken system at the border, what’s different now is that the sharp increase in illegal immigration—including a massive increase in unaccompanied minors—since Biden took office is a direct result of Biden administration policies and Democrats’ messaging.
Numbers tell the tale. In February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 100,441 people at the border, the vast majority of whom crossed illegally, up from 78,442 in January and 74,018 in December—before Biden took office. The numbers for March will far surpass February, April will surpass March, and so on.
The only reason Democrats are scrambling to blame the border fiasco on Trump is that things are spiraling out of control down there. Every single day last week, CBP took into custody an average of 565 unaccompanied minors, and now has more than 4,200 children in custody—a record that’s being broken every day now.
The Border Patrol facilities meant to hold these kids are well over capacity, there’s not enough food or shower facilities, and these kids are being held by CBP on average for 117 hours, in violation of federal law. Some have been waiting more than 10 days. (CBP is supposed to transfer minors to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement within three days, but it can’t because ORR is overwhelmed and has nowhere to put them.)
This is what happens, with remarkable predictability, when a new president comes into office and signs a raft of executive orders suspending deportations, revoking policies meant to deter illegal immigration, and making it easier for migrants to claim asylum and get released into the country. This is exactly what Biden did, and the result at the border is exactly what you would expect. Even CNN is reporting that Central American migrants say the reason they’ve come now is that they heard the United States is allowing children and families into the country.
After the administration denied there was a crisis for weeks, the crisis has become undeniable. Over the weekend, the Biden administration deployed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the border to assist the processing of unaccompanied minors, which has overwhelmed federal border officials.
A delegation of GOP lawmakers went to the border Monday and got a look inside a massive CBP processing center in El Paso. The Biden administration refused to allow members of the press to accompany the congressional delegation, which reported the facility was over capacity and that federal officials are constructing a makeshift facility in the parking lot to handle the overflow.
These problems don’t stop at the border. FEMA is now planning to house some 3,000 migrant teens at the downtown Dallas convention center for up to 90 days. Some 165 miles south of Dallas, in Donna, Texas, a tent facility is housing more than 1,000 migrant kids, some as young as four.
Lawyers who inspected the place said kids are packed in, sleeping on the floor, and unable to shower for four or five days. On Monday, HHS confirmed it would begin housing minors at a new site in Midland, Texas, some 200 miles from the border. The facility will be run by nonprofits, contractors, and federal staff.
All this would be bad enough without the pandemic, but crowded border facilities are raising concerns about a COVID-19 outbreak. Up and down the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, federal agents are releasing migrants who have tested positive for COVID-19, sometimes without notifying local officials.
Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican congressman from Texas who traveled to the border near the city of Laredo on Monday, told Fox News that the federal facility for unaccompanied migrant children in Carrizo Springs, Texas, has “dozens” of minors in custody who have tested positive for COVID-19.
On top of all this, there are also rising concerns about adults crossing illegally. Border communities in South Texas are seeing a sharp increase in high-speed chases through their towns, as vehicles full of illegal immigrants attempt to evade Border Patrol.
The mayor of Uvalde, Texas, which is about 60 miles from the border, said there are about a dozen high-speed chases through his town every week now. He says they run between 95 to 100 miles per hour. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”
We’re going to see a steady flow of headlines and news stories like this in the months to come. We’re also going to see Democrats try to deflect and pretend that this has nothing to do with Biden’s border policies. Don’t believe a word of it.
This piece has been updated to reflect that Rep. Chip Roy did not travel with the GOP conference delegation to El Paso. He set up his own visit near Laredo.